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south fork american

fun on the river for ages 6 to 106

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The Ultimate All inclusive California Rafting Adventure

The South Fork of the American River is the premier rafting river in California and one of the most popular rivers in the United States. Located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills smack in the middle of Gold Rush Country, the South Fork of the American is a great way for families, friends, and nervous first timers to be introduced to the thrills and fun of whitewater rafting in a safe yet exhilarating environment. Enjoy the fun and excitement of rafting with your kids or a group of friends in the outdoors while creating wonderful memories of time spent together on the river. Ideally located, the 21 mile South Fork of the American River offers a Class 3 rafting experience with over 30 exhilarating rapids and a great deal of fun and enjoyment. Whether this will be your first time or you are a whitewater veteran, the South Fork will provide an exciting and thrilling adventure.

What’s the River Like?
The South Fork of the American River is an easy to moderate intensity Class 3 rafting river and is a great way for everyone from ages 6 to 106 to experience the fun of whitewater rafting. Perfect for families and friends, corporate groups, scout groups and school groups to nervous first timers, a South Fork rafting adventure has the ability to bring out huge smiles on of all your faces. Enjoy the relaxation of floating down a river with moments of sheer excitement as you paddle through fun filled rapids. It’s a perfect river to bring together just the right level of excitement.

We offer 5 different rafting experiences for South Fork American River rafting ranging from a half day to multi day trips covering between 6 to 21 miles. You can also combine any one of our South Fork rafting experiences with a Middle Fork or North Fork rafting trip for a truly exhilarating and unforgettable multi-day rafting adventure.

When to go rafting on the South Fork?
The season for rafting the South Fork of the American River starts at the beginning of April and goes until the end of September. We are able to raft on weekends in October. In April and early May the water runs strong and typically slightly higher than in the summer. Spring rafting on the South Fork of the American River is a fantastic experience for those looking for a slightly more exciting run! Early May through the end of September the dams on the South Fork offer a stable, yet exciting and fun flow of water all summer long.

Where is the South Fork located?
The South Fork of the American River is located in the historic Gold Rush town of Coloma, just a short drive northeast of Sacramento or southwest of Reno/Tahoe and an easy 2 hour drive from the Bay Area depending on traffic.
When you go rafting on the South Fork of the American River with us, you have several trip meeting options.

Option 1: Stay at our deluxe campground in the Historic Gold Rush town of Coloma the night before your trip. Your camping the night before is free! If you are doing a multi-day trip then camping for several nights is included.

Option 2: Meet at our campground the morning of your trip. A great option if you live close by and are just coming for a day of rafting fun on the South Fork.

Want to stay a while?
There is a lot to do and see in Coloma and the surrounding areas, so why not take a few days. Our location and facilities are truly unique. We are the only rafting company with easy river access that has a privately owned resort campground with great facilities like an in ground swimming pool, stocked bass and trout pond, luxury cabins and lush grass covered campsites. Our private campground in Coloma is located in the middle of the James Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. Just a five minute walk and you are in the middle of Gold Rush History! Coloma is in the heart of El Dorado Wine Country and surrounded by beautiful Hiking, Biking and Equestrian Trails.

Check out the South Fork American River virtual tour with a rapid-by-rapid description. The El Dorado County Visitors Authority has an excellent site with lots of information about the South Fork of the American River and the surrounding area. There is also a South Fork American River Access Map for people interested in exploring the South Fork American River. You can also look at current and historic South Fork Flows.

Trip Photography Package Option – Share your Adventure

Photos are taken beginning with the safety talk and continue until the end of your trip. CD’s are available at the completion of your trip Photos will be shown on the big screen following each trip and during dinner.

Super Deluxe Bus Transportation for Large Groups: Round Trip Available!

For more questions on our South Fork Trips or questions in general, please call us at 800-825-3205 or check out our FAQ page.

Trips list

#1Half Day Trip - Chili Bar

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If your time is limited but you still want to experience the joy of rafting, then this is the perfect trip for you. Action packed from start to finish and sure to get your adrenalin flowing.

Meeting Time: 8:30 AM in Coloma on Weekdays. 8:30 AM or 12:00 PM on Weekends

Length: 6 miles

Time on water: 2 hour

Class/Level: II - III

Cost range: $74 - $105

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family special, group rates and last minute specials.

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#2Half Day Trip - Lower Gorge Express

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Want an afternoon rafting trip that is fun, relaxing and not too short? Our Express rafting trip is by far the longest offered on the South Fork American River. Arrive having had lunch and spend your afternoon relaxing on the river filled with moments of excitement paddling through fun rapids.

Meeting Time: 12:00 PM

Length: 15 miles

Time on water: 3.5 Hours

Class/Level: II - III

Cost range: $100 - $124

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family special, group rates and last minute specials.

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#3Day Trip - South Fork Lower Gorge

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The longest Lower Gorge Run on the South Fork and our most popular one day rafting trip. Spend a relaxing day filled with moments of excitement paddling through fun rapids. Perfect for first timers, families with young children and groups looking for a fun day out.

Meeting Time: 10:00 AM

Length: 15 miles

Time on water: 6 Hours including lunch

Class/Level: II - III

Cost range: $115 - $139

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family special, group rates and last minute specials.

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#4Day Trip - South Fork Whole River

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Are you looking for a super full day of whitewater rafting on a river that’s just packed with fun, excitement, and thrills? Then this is the trip for you! You’ll raft the entire 21 mile length of the South Fork Chili Bar and the Lower Gorge Sections in a wet and wild one day trip.

Meeting Time: 8:30 AM in Coloma

Length: 21 Miles

Time on water: 7 hours with lunch

Class/Level: II - III

Cost range: $135 - $155

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family special, group rates and last minute specials.

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#5Two Day South Fork Trip - Lower Gorge + Chili Bar

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Join us for two days of fun, sun, and whitewater on the South Fork of the American River, one of the most popular whitewater rafting trips in the world! A perfect way to relax, unwind and enjoy time with family and friends.

Meeting Time: 10:00 AM on Day 1

Length: 21 Miles

Time on water: Day 1 - 6 Hours Including Lunch, Day 2 - 2 Hours

Class/Level: II - III

Cost range: $249 - $299

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family special, group rates and last minute specials.

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